Remembering Kobe Bryant: A collection from a year covering the Los Angeles Lakers icon's life and death

Yahoo Sports Staff
·4-min read

The following is our collection of a year covering the NBA icon’s life and death, then and now.

“To heal, we must remember. And it’s hard sometimes to remember. But that’s how we heal.”

That was incoming President Joe Biden last week honoring the nation’s coronavirus victims, numbering more than 400,000. The pandemic’s relentlessness makes a tragedy that came before — the deaths of Kobe Bryant, his daughter Gianna and seven more in a helicopter crash — feel at once eons away and just yesterday. How has it been a year since Jan. 26, 2020? And how has it been only a year? Time churns.

Combing through Yahoo Sports NBA’s hundreds of breaking news, feature stories and remembrances of the fallen Los Angeles Lakers legend over the past 366 days is to travel to another era. Mourners embraced outside Staples Center. “Kobe” chants filled arenas. Almost 20,000 attended their public memorial service.

To feel death around us night after night and not to share mourning is to become numb. Then, the pain of Vanessa Bryant’s voice cracks us open again. Beaming photos of Kobe and Gianna pluck our heartstrings. A father and his daughter. Promise broken on impact. That frozen moment thaws, their memory still fresh. I do not pretend to know how the victims must have felt, how their survivors still do, but we feel nonetheless.

One year has passed since the death of Kobe Bryant. He was not five into his retirement. He would be a year younger than Tom Brady today, another lifetime ahead of him. Gianna had all of hers on the horizon. As calendars continue to turn, our grief may age and soften. But it still feels hard. Let’s remember. Let’s heal.

The Kobe Timeline: Remembering the Lakers legend, from tragedy to triumph

Part I, Jan. 25-31, 2020: The loss of Bryant, a #GirlDad, shakes the world from Los Angeles to Milan

Part II, February-March 2020: Vanessa Bryant’s emotional, moving eulogy at public memorial

Part III, April-October 2020: First-ballot Hall of Fame nod, birthday tributes and Lakers' 17th NBA title

— Ben Rohrbach

Bryant's death culminated an emotional and symbolic week across the NBA

There was no way to know an emotional and symbolic week would culminate in Bryant’s death, the biggest basketball tragedy of the year, but nothing has been the same from that third full week in January 2020.

— Vincent Goodwill

He was Bryant’s ‘Mr. Pilot Man.’ Now he’s blamed for Kobe’s death

To Ara Zobayan’s family, the spotlight has been particularly cruel. “Within hours of the accident, they had media people pounding on the door where Tess and Ara lived,” Chuck Street, a close friend, says. Tess, Zobayan’s partner, received threats as well. Island Express, his employer, hired the security to protect her. To some Kobe acolytes, Zobayan had become the villain. And that crushed everybody who knew Zobayan.

— Henry Bushnell and Jeff Eisenberg

‘I carry Kobe and Gigi with me every day’: Sabrina Ionescu honors their legacy one year later

The New York Liberty star remains close with the Bryant family: Kobe’s wife, Vanessa, and daughters Natalia, Bianka and Capri. She shared how she honors their legacies in a statement to Yahoo Sports.

— Cassandra Negley

Kobe and the Mambas: How 3 photographers captured the now famous images

“I cried for three days going through all the footage,” Jineen Williams said. “My days were filled with constantly having to look over those photos, constantly having to relive that day. As hard as it was to edit that video, Brandon [Green] and I knew we were doing it to honor Kobe and Gigi and the rest of the team.”

— Krysten Peek

Nancy Lieberman could have been on Bryant’s helicopter: ‘No doubt in my mind that I’d have gone’

The death of a five-time NBA champion, Oscar-winning filmmaker and best-selling author gutted the global basketball community, but few took the dire news harder than Lieberman. Strangers asked if she needed an ambulance after seeing her burst into tears and hyperventilate so hard that she struggled to breathe.

— Jeff Eisenberg

How Kobe helped propel the WNBA orange hoodie’s iconic rise

“Everybody in the world respected Kobe, and that image of him with his daughter being the last one — I don’t believe in coincidences. I feel like things happen for a reason,” Eb Jones, the WNBA’s former lead for content and influencer strategy, told Yahoo Sports. “It’s so extremely unfortunate that we lost him because of all the wonderful things he wanted to do for the league. But if God felt it was time for him to go and his time from here was gone, he made sure that he even made a statement going out.”

— Cassandra Negley

Kobe Bryant is now and forever the NBA's Godfather

“The Godfather is gone. What does that mean? How do we fill the black hole he’s left in the space he once occupied? I’ve struggled with this question. The thought alone has brought me to tears, even while writing this. And I don’t think we can fill that hole, but also I don’t think we have to because when watching the NBA, his influence is everywhere in this era of skilled basketball.”

— LaJethro Jenkins

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